Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Fascinating obsessions

Today's two main adventures both involved obsessive men, though men with very different sorts of obsessions.

After sleeping late but poorly (as usual), I devoted much of the afternoon to Sir John Soane's Museum.  Dave and MarkP had both recommended it, and boy, were they right to do so!  The place is simply fantastic, in many senses of that word.  I have no pictures to show you, because they do not permit photography, but if you are in London and have any free time whatsoever, I highly recommend it.

Basically, Soane managed to get Parliament to pass a law letting his house become a museum after his death--something he did because he did not want to pass his fortune to his son.  Soane, an architect, built over his lifetime a fabulous collection of books, sculpture, paintings, and drawings.  The house is very close to the way it was when he died in 1837.

A house full of books and art collected heavily from contemporaries and near-contemporaries; hmmm, I wonder why Dave and I like it so much.

In any case, it is a wonderful, wonderful place.  Do not miss it.

Back in Barcelona, eating at Nino Viejo, I chatted with a British couple.  They mentioned that Albert Adria was doing a pop-up version of Tickets in London.  Called 50 Days by Albert Adria, it is one of the hottest tickets in London.  I immediately joined the wait list for it, and by good luck I was able to go tonight.

It was an excellent experience, in the classic Adria style both dinner and a show.  The chefs employed a great many modernist techniques, so what you saw was often different than what you tasted.  Sometimes, though, they went for very simple, very pure but delicious dishes, such as this thin slice of tuna with caviar atop it.

Click the image to see a larger version.

At every stage, the very good staff stressed having fun, and I certainly did.  My only complaint was a small one:  the courses felt a bit rushed.  I would have preferred a minute or two more between each one.  That was, though, a small preference.

Today was day 17 of the pop-up, so if you're going to be in London in the next 33 days, get on the wait list and enjoy a world-class dinner and a fun show, all in one.

Tomorrow, I hope to have at least three adventures!


Mark P said...

I liked the Seti I Sarcophagus.

Mark said...

Yeah, that was amazing to see. Encountering an artifact of that age and significance sitting in the basement of a private home is quite a surprise.

David Drake said...

Dear Mark,

And the Hogarths!

Remember he was collecting those items as models for his students to work from at a time when you couldn't just go on line and find an Ionic capital from 100 AD (for example).

His son, who was a thoroughly bad hat, did stage painting with David Roberts, better known for his series of watercolors of the Holy Land, which are historic documents now as well as art. All these tiny little connections....

Glad you got there!

Mark said...

Oh, the web of connections around Soane was indeed huge. He was a great friend of the much younger Turner and fished with him--and supported Turner when the guy needed a few sales. He was rich only because he married the right woman and ended up an architect. Amazing stuff.

I loved the Hogarths, but I also adored the Piranesi pieces.

Mark P said...

I rather like David Roberts Egyptian pictures. You might notice a pattern here.
Unfortunately I can't find a suitable place in the house for a print although I do have a book of his Holy Land watercolours. I'm still hoping to get the book of his Egyptian watercolours.

I keep hoping more authors would include ancient Egyptian settings for their fantasy/scifi. Only Gary Gygax and Fred Saberhagen come to mind.

Mark said...

I don't know that time well enough to write stories in it, so I won't be of any help there.

old aggie said...

The Soane Museum is used as a setting in one of the Bryant and May mysteries by Christopher Fowler, "The Invisible Code." This delightful series has loads of obscure facts about London and its history. Enjoy your time there, Mark!

Mark said...

Thanks for the information and for the kind wishes.


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